During your Medical School interview, you’ll need to show that you have a solid knowledge of where you’ve applied to, and demonstrate your enthusiasm for the course and the institution. It’s hard to know the best way to showcase your knowledge of Medical School – but reviewing these interview questions and answers will help.

The answer guides to these knowledge of Medical School questions have been put together by medics who have successfully navigated interviews at top Medical Schools. They’re included in our Mastering the Medical School Interview Guide which you’ll get when you join a Medical School Interview Course. It’s over 220 pages long and has everything you need to ace your interview.

Are You Aware Of The Main Method Of Teaching At This Medical School?

What Do You Think Are The Advantages Of This Style Of Teaching?

It is essential that you know exactly what course structure and teaching style the Medical School uses. Is it traditional style, integrated, PBL, or something else?

Make sure you are using very up-to-date information, because universities can change their course structure each year. For example, Cardiff now uses a variation on PBL called Case-Based Learning (CBL). Run through how the structure works — both generally and specifically at this university. Then, crucially, explain why you think it is an excellent way to learn and why it would suit you very well.

Focus more on the positives of the course structure they use, rather than fixating on the negatives of other systems.

Some lecture-based advantages: Dissemination of information is more consistent from lectures, and you can be sure that the information is correct and relevant to the course and exams. It means that everybody receives the same body of material and is therefore on a level playing field for the exams.

Some PBL advantages: Working in teams and developing people skills are central to the medical profession, and PBL can be a good way to simulate this working style. The earlier you get used to working together in teams, with the challenges this can bring, the better.

Be aware of whether the Medical School does/does not offer dissection as part of the anatomy teaching, and be prepared to speak about the advantages of either approach.

Common mistakes:

  • Not knowing the course type and saying something vague like “I don’t really know but imagine that there will be a mixture of lectures and practical sessions.”
  • Knowing the course type used, but not being able to speak about it in detail. How can you commit to something for a number of years without understanding it?
  • Saying that it doesn’t really matter to you, because you are confident in your ability to thrive in any learning environment. That isn’t accurate: it does matter!

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Do You Think Cadaveric Dissection Is Important For Medical Students?

First, you should know whether cadaveric dissection is something done by the Medical School you’re applying to or not, and factor this into your thinking.

On the positive side, it could be a good way to learn about the body, as plastic models and animations can only ever approximate anatomical structures. It also brings a certain gravity to anatomy teaching, and dissecting a real human body can be an inspiring and humbling experience.

However, cadavers are not the only way to learn anatomy. Sometimes models can be helpful to generalise structures or represent things in a slightly different way that aids with learning of a particular structure.

Sometimes abstractions are the best way of learning about something, while seeing the real thing is the most effective way of understanding it. Therefore, a mix of cadaveric dissection and model-based teaching could be a desirable thing.

Common mistakes:

  • Not knowing what cadaveric dissection is. This is a key part of learning about the body and you have to get to grips with it.
  • Not knowing what the university’s stance is. This leaves you playing an uncomfortable guessing game, where you don’t know whether to expound the positives or be more withdrawn.
  • Expressing trepidation (e.g. “I think I would struggle with it”). The human body is what Medicine is all about!
  • Saying that you don’t think cadavers are very useful, because Doctors work with living patients and not dead ones.

Why Did You Choose This Medical School?

Make it clear that you considered the type of teaching at the Medical School and how it is used, compared to various others. This is where your knowledge of Medical Schools is particularly important.

If the course structure has not already been covered as a standalone question, explain why you think their course structure is a great fit for you.

Pick out any key unique selling points that make this university stand out, and explain why you think they are important. Once you have covered the course, you can talk about the extracurricular activities and societies at the university.

A good approach is to say that you are looking for somewhere that offers excellence in teaching, as well as good opportunities to get involved in extracurricular activities.

Common Mistakes:

  • Emphasising the location before anything else. For example, saying you want to attend Imperial “because it’s in Central London and living there would be fun.”
  • Not knowing the course structure properly and consequently saying things that demonstrate a lack of knowledge of the Medical School, such as “I like the PBL teaching approach” when PBL is not used there.
  • Talking about anything to do with nightlife!

Are You Aware Of  The Catchment Area Of  The Teaching Hospitals That This Medical School Has?

First, you need to know the process: what is the relationship between Medical Schools and their teaching hospitals, and how does this help your training towards becoming a Doctor. It is essential that you know which hospitals are associated with the Medical School, what they are like and where they are. They aren’t always very close!

Therefore, you should be able to tell them you know that the school is associated with hospitals in x area, and you like the idea of being sent on clinical placements to hospitals in that area. It is important as a medical student to get a window into as many parts of the NHS as possible, so being sent on placements will be a good opportunity to do that.

Common Mistakes:

  • Not understanding the concept of teaching hospitals and how their association with the Medical School works.
  • Not knowing which hospitals are associated with the university.
  • Saying you are aware that students can be sent to regional hospitals but you hope that you will be able to do all your placements in the city, as it will be far more convenient and interesting.

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This University Offers A Wide Range Of Extracurricular Societies, Reflecting The Diversity Of Students And Courses.

If You Were A Student Here, Which Societies Would You Be Interested In Joining?

Some universities, like Imperial, place a lot of emphasis on your involvement in extracurricular activities because it demonstrates that you are a well-rounded candidate. If you are not interested in anything other than Medicine, you may look too insular, so you should have thought about this and had a look at the societies available at the university.

If there is something that you already do, like playing a sport, then this will be a natural thing to bring up. If you can cite something specific about the university’s club (e.g. their achievements last year), that is a plus.

Example answer: I would like to get involved with the x (e.g. hockey) society because it has been a hobby of mine for some years, and I feel I could contribute to the university team who got to the semi-finals last year.

If you don’t have a society that’s a natural fit, show that you are proactive and open-minded by speaking about some things that you haven’t tried before but would like to try at university.

Example answer: I would like to try out x (e.g. karate) because I have not tried it before and I would really like to see if it’s something I would enjoy.

Example answer: I would like to learn x (e.g. Arabic) because it has always fascinated me, but I have never had the opportunity to pursue this before.

Common Mistakes:

  • Being dismissive of extracurricular activities and therefore not seeming like a well-rounded candidate.
  • Saying something like “I imagine I will be studying too much to get involved in any activities like that” is dangerous ground.
  • Being closed-minded and saying something like “trying new things is not something that I’m really interested in” or “I’m not planning to join any student societies.”

What Would You Do If You Fell Behind On This Course?

Places at Medical School are precious commodities for universities, and the courses are incredibly challenging. This question is designed to see if you have the self-awareness to recognise that things might go wrong – and that you know how to deal with difficulties in the right way.

First of all, if you have done your research into the Medical School and know what pastoral care, learning support and peer support is on offer, then you are well placed to answer this question. You will want to structure your answer by saying something like this: “Of course, whoever I approached for help would depend on the nature of the problem I was having and how long I had been experiencing the problem for. But for serious problems, I would probably…” And run through an ordered list of the people you would turn to.

For serious problems, you would typically speak to your personal tutor first (who will direct you to the most appropriate faculty member). Next would be the course director. Next would be the university support team. You might also consider peer support (e.g. student peers or mentors) or asking the Students’ Union for support.

If you haven’t done any research and have no idea what support is offered by the university, say that your first reaction would be to speak to a member of the faculty and seek the help and support you would need to get back on track. Then, make sure you do your research for your next interview!

If you have experience of failure or difficulties studying (but have overcome them), feel free to speak about them. It shows experience and resilience – but phrase it in the right way so that it doesn’t come across as a weakness (i.e. DON’T SAY: “Oh I always seem to struggle with everything at first…”).

Common Mistakes:

  • Saying “I don’t know” or not knowing enough about the Medical School to know what kind of support is provided.
  • Claiming that you have never failed before and do not expect to at Medical School.
  • Saying that you will have no problems keeping up at Medical School and expect to be top of the class.

What Is Your Knowledge Of The Health Of The Local Population?

Your answer should show an interest in the local area where you will be based as a medical student and will likely interact with patients on placements. It is a good idea to comment on any prevalent diseases in the local population, if there are any that stand out.

If the Medical School or associated teaching hospitals have been involved in any public health campaigns recently, mention them and how you think they will aim to improve the health of local people. Is there a trend that is clear to see?

You may wish to comment on people becoming healthier or a decline in health. Are there any cultural factors involved? People from different backgrounds have different approaches to maintaining a healthy lifestyle.

Interacting with a diverse population with different health conditions is useful in the training and experience of a medical student. Mention how this is likely to make you a better Doctor.

If you have met a patient with a condition that is typical of the local population to the Medical School, you may wish to reflect on that experience.

Common Mistakes:

  • Being too critical of people for their ill health. Often people suffer from conditions which are far out of their control. Showing empathy is a huge part of being a Doctor.
  • Not knowing about the general health of the local area. Even if there are no unique diseases that are prevalent in the area, there is always a common health condition you can mention.

Have You Spoken To Any Current Medical Students?

The best candidates will be honest in their response and explore what they learned from speaking to current/former medical students from that particular university. This may include a mix of the academic and non-academic aspects of the course they learned about, or the university experience in general.

Candidates should communicate that speaking to current medical students provided them with a realistic insight into the course and solidified their decision to study Medicine there.

What did the medical students say about how challenging the course is? Did they address topics such as time management, organisation, the transition from A-Levels, etc?

Common Mistakes:

  • Lying or significantly exaggerating what the medical students said by being too optimistic/positive, e.g. “I’ve spoken to numerous medical students so far, and they all absolutely love the course and told me it would be the happiest five years of my life!”
  • Undermining the current medical students or insinuating that you made no effort to get into contact with them.
  • Talking about “negative” feedback from current/past medical students.
  • Only responding with “no” (i.e. you have not spoken to any medical students) and not expanding on why this may have been the case/other research you have done.

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